almond butter-chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

thanks to a couple bbq's today i had reason to bake. i took stock of what i had in my house and ended up making this recipe from Martha's New Classics cookbook. many have asked for the recipe- and here it is- posted. i tweaked the recipe a bit- using almond butter over peanut, and chopping up some bittersweet baking chocolate over semi-sweet chips. i also didn't have salted peanuts so i threw in some slivered almonds and raisins. the results were praised so even though i don't think i'll be quick to make them again- maybe you should. too many other recipes out there...

i madonnari

memorial day weekend means the i madonarri festival in sb. i hear it's been going on since 1987- chalk artists come out and do various works sponsored by a company, school, etc. it's all done at the foot of the mission and there are food vendors, bands, etc. this shot it by a guy who every year does a different drawing of his kids. while at westmont our head drawing class got a square but i was where i really would have liked to be this weekend- Blossom Time. the best weekend of the year in my hometown, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

fish. farmers. french.

yesterday was a pretty incredibly wonderful santa barbara day- affirming why it is i love it here and also the roots i'm putting down. the morning started with going to the Santa Barbara Fish Market at the harbor with Audrey and Josh. We wanted something fresh and local and settled on black sea bass- caught right here in SB. We then went onto the farmers market where we picked up everything else for our meal- all local thankyouverymuch. we then headed on to Renaud's to try out his full breakfast. So good... Jeannine's now has some competition on upper state. the afternoon for me was spent helping a woman with an Italian cooking class. It was at a couples beautiful home- 5 couples came and she shared her Italian recipes thanks to her parents. Her dad went to culinary school there and her mom was a baker. i enjoyed it very much though i must say it's put the bug in me that i could someday do little cooking classes for my friends, or their friends, or bake for birthday parties, etc. a little catering perhaps. some people steer clear and don't like the pressure- but i think i would. so- business cards could be on their way. any thoughts for a name?! "laura beth basics..." "bounty by lb." ok- really though let me know your ideas. I came home to 2 chefs in my kitchen and really good scents of garlic. We made a recipe I remember making in high school- Oven-Roasted Sea Bass with Couscous and Warm Tomato Vinaigrette. It was as good and simple as I remember- comes out real classy, healthy, and so good. It's a recipe you think- "this is better than what I would get at a restaurant..." at least I think so. we also had some squash from the garden and french baguette from the market to sop up the sauce. we had Firestone Chardonnay- only $4.99 at TJ's right now! audrey also made an excellent peach cobbler with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. we combined a couple recipes to get a great crust and audrey took vanilla ice cream, softened it and mixed in cinnamon to make for a great flavor- so great with the cobbler. once again..the really good life.

old soul. we all know i have one.

I'm almost done with Anne Lamott's Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. I've enjoyed it a lot. Her very liberal thoughts and Christian perspective are something that maybe i don't agree with all the time, but i respect. I'd argue that it's good for everyone to read something that they don't 100% believe in once in awhile- it stretches us. anyways, i love this paragraph that i think fits well with the essence of the good life...
"I have grown old enough to develop radical acceptance...I don't think that if I live to be eighty, I'm going to wish I'd spent more hours in the gym or kept my house a lot cleaner. I'm going to wish I had swum more unashamedly, made more mistakes, spaced out more, rested. On the day I die, I want to have dessert. So this informs how I live now."

veggie pie

during the week it's easy to throw together meals with whatever i've got in my house, and what's out in the garden. with a bunch of veggies, ricotta, and parm i threw together a lasagna of sorts sans pasta. the first layer was some tomatoes since i didn't have any sauce in the house- i actually liked that the dish wasn't overpowered by a sauce, but you could use sauce as well. i grilled up some eggplant and zucchini to soften them then dipped the eggplant in a little bit of egg then in bread crumbs to give it substance and have the dish hold together. some Hawaiian onion was softened as well. for the ricotta mixture i added some Parmesan, one egg, fresh basil and oregano chopped up, and salt and pepper for seasoning. i layered up the veggies and had the ricotta mixture in the middle. made the house smell great, and good leftovers too.

it makes me so happy

after much encouragement from friends, i stopped by the new French Pattiserie across from my house before work today. i went through the doors and all the sudden i was in this wonderful french bakery, Renaud's. there were many people like me; getting their croissant, coffee and taking off. they serve full French breakfast and lunch which perhaps i'll try out this weekend. so wonderful- the ambiance, and the food. i got an almond croissant- brilliant. if i knew more French i'd use it here. i'm pretty excited it may be a little overcast this weekend. i won't feel so bad if i go hide out in there with a book. apparently the chef has red hair... ratatouille?! i told keola- maybe we'll go over there one of these days.

lactose intolerance

I'm not going to let my lactose intolerance stop me from enjoying some
of the simple joys of life, i.e. cheese. while at tri-county produce the other day, a place i like to frequent when i don't make it to the farmers market, i was more than excited to see Beecher Cheese. while in Seattle a few months back kalin and i sat on these cute silver 'chairs' and enjoyed the best grilled cheese sandwich of life- peering into the the making of the cheese. so great- and now- so local...ish.

market me

sometimes it sounds like i'm glamorizing santa barbara, or my life here. but, i really dont' think i am. it's beautiful, and everyone that lives here knows it. where else can i ride my bike to work- from my house, up around the mission, look at the ocean, then cruise downtown through neighborhoods. the way up is a bit different, but i'm up for the work-out. i was just now doing some research on the fish market that happens down at the harbor on saturdays as i'd like to go and stumbled upon this article from the LA Times. Laurence Hauben who I took the French Cooking Class from is highlighted in it, and the C'est Cheese shop they mention is a block from my work. It's one of my favorite rows of stores; cheese shop, used book store, bread and bakery shop. everything you need in a matter of feet.

berry galette

1 refrigerated pie dough
3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries
cup sugar
tablespoons your favorite preserves, melted and divided
tablespoon turbinado or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Roll 1 dough portion into a 12-inch circle; place on foil. Combine peaches, blueberries, and sugar. Arrange berry mixture in center of dough, leaving a 3-inch border. Fold edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover peach mixture). Brush half of melted preserves over peach mixture and edges of dough.

Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove galette from oven); bake an additional 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tasty- easy- and a wonderful way to justify eating more fruit


my weekend. enough said.

margarita cupcakes

the long awaited post...

Cupcakes: 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 1/2 tsp lime zest (1 lime), 1 cup soy milk,1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp tequila, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Fill a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.
In a large bowl, mix together lime juice, lime zest, soy milk, oil , tequila, vanilla and sugar. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to lime mixture and stir until just combined. Divide evenly into muffin tins.
Bake for 20-24 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Tequila and Lime Frosting: 1/4 butter or nonhydrogenated shortening, softened, 1 tbsp soymilk, 3 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp tequila, 2+ cups confectioners' sugar, coarse sugar for "rims"

Cream together butter, soymilk, lime juice, tequila, and 2 cups of confectioners' sugar. Add in more sugar as needed to make frosting stiff, but spreadable. Spread on cupcakes and roll the edges in a small amount of coarse, colored sugar (poured into a small bowl, so it's easy to direct it.

savoy crush

i think i'll have a restuarant/deli/bakery in santa barbara, but then i want a bar with wine and truffles and good tea. perfect. some people... i finally experienced savoy today for lunch. great salad bar, bakery section selling pumpkin muffins- i'll support anyone who serves pumpkin anything year round. it was a great little spot and one i probably won't rush back to, but i'm glad to know it's there. afterwards maggie and i headed to crush cakes as i haven't been since it's opening. margarita cupcake on a 85 degree afternoon sounded good to me- and is inspiring what i'll be bringing to a bbq tomorrow night...

ahi tuna kabobs

i got some tuna from tj's the other day and decided to make this recipe last night. good thing i had skewers and own a grill pan. no pics this time- not too pretty, but i'd make it again, probably this time just flashing the tuna on the grill, not cutting it into cubes. a good healthy summertime meal. i'm assuming the leftovers will be great in salads as well. eat up.

reach on...

i recently finished reading The Reach of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. I highly recommend it to anyone whose interested in the food world, or has been intrigued by shows like top chef or anything food network. it gave me a better business sense of this new industry as well as info on how culinary schools are changing and chefs are becoming more like ceo's. there is a lot on thomas keller and the French Laundry as well which is more than exciting if i get to go this summer... :) he has another book, the Soul of Chef, which i'd like to read, but I think i might take a break from food reading for a bit and tap into some beach read this weekend...

marbled devil's food angel cake

i cut this recipe out of a cooking light long ago, and last night as i wanted to make something with what i had in the house, not wanting to have to go buy too many ingredients, i figured i'd see what chocolate in angel food cake was like and i must say, quite good. i've been craving chocolate these days, not because i'm preggers, and this hit the spot. it's easy enough- a 2 bowl wonder- and looks quite nice for guests or other summer time parties you may be going to. i didn't have cake flour so i used self-rising, which was fine with me. also i didn't make the chocolate drizzle because let's be honest, i don't really need it, but i don't think the cake does either. now here's a question, who came up with this name for this devilish angel cake?!

cheeky monkey

sometimes i can't get enough of jamie oliver and today i discovered his bottom's up mugs. i've already been in love with the cheeky ones and am trying to find if he sells them in the states. the only ones i can find are sold out of Royal Worcester across the pond and if they don't get over here soon i may just splurge one of these days and pay the ridiculous fees. how much do you want to drink coffee, or rather tea out of one of these?!

goodness granola

4 cups oats- i use the multi grain mix from tjs
1/2 almonds- throw in other nuts you want to use, like walnuts
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
flax, bran, etc. meal- whatever you have on hand
1/3 cup each of honey, molasses and water- i also threw in some maple syrup
2 T veg. oil
boil the wet ingredients and then pour over oats. bake at 325 for 40 min, stirring every 10 min. remove from oven and stir in dried fruit, raisins, etc. enjoy...

elke wood's lemon squares

1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/3 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter
1 T plus 1 t. lemon zest
1/3 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
2 cup granulated sugar
4 lg eggs- beaten
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. baking powder

1. preheat oven to 350 F. sift 1 1/2 cups flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt. cut into the butter 1 t. zest, an the almonds until the mixture clings- helps to use hands!
2. press into lightly buttered 9 x 13 dish- bake until just firm and lightly golden, about 20 min. let cool slightly.
3. in a large bowl stir together granulated sugar, eggs, lemon juice, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 cup flour and T zest. pour into prepared crust.
4. bake until filling is set and lightly browned, 25-30 min. cool on wire rack. as said by one of my friends, 'these are the best lemon bars i've ever had...'


Saturday was the first BBQ of the summer, and oh how exciting it was. i was happy to make a pasta salad, which ended up being about everything from my fridge: brown rice pasta, egg noodles, bow tie pasta, some pesto, basil, tomatoes, roasted red onion, garlic and zucchini, capers, Parmesan, feta, and spinach. i added some pine nuts and country french dressing to top it off and the results and reviews were quite good. i also stumbled into my Martha cookbook and went for her shrimp kabob recipe. basically take shrimp and marinate it in evoo and a bunch of cilantro. then string it on skewers (that have soaked if you're using wood ones) with some green pepper and pineapple. the recipe doesn't call for those things, but yet again i had them in my fridge and i love caramelized pineapple. the results were so good- light and summery.

if you can't beat 'em, join 'em

friday night started the summer feeling of concerts at the bowl, our first go with Michael Buble. yet again, living in this town is great when you know for a concert you don't have to leave super early, or worry about parking when you've got friends who live across the street (yet another thanks to the dunlops). wine from local vineyards is served for not much different of a price than if you were anywhere else on a friday night and when you're about to listen to listen to romantic tunes it's pretty much a given that wine shall be had in hand. i'm not too sure how to really review the concert or share my thoughts without saying "mo money mo problems." it'd be nice to think this canadian was just singing for the love of jazz and wasn't tainted but sadly i think we all would be with these looks and a voice that left a woman behind us saying, 'now if that's not sexy, i don't know what is.'

it's funny

it's funny that i was in vegas yesterday for less than 12 hrs. it's funny that i might be in vegas a lot (bc of work) and really overall it's funny what God's plans are sometimes. what's not funny is that Coast has $4 cosmos until 7pm. not that i plan on 'getting the piss' as my co-workers would say, but it really is good news.

laurence hauben

Saturday was the day dreams became reality. i finally got up for the cooking class at Roblar Winery. I was definitely not fitting the demographic of the class, but oh well. we went into the kitchen and were greeted by Laurence Hauben who is from France, but has lived in SB for about 24 yrs. She's big into eating local; the farmers markets and fish market on Saturday, and Slow Food. She is also an advocate that you only need a few, fresh, great ingredients, and you can make wonderful meals. I liked her from the beginning, though I kinda wonder if she was curious as to why I was there- she probably thought I was with my parents. Anyways, the menu included: local organic goat cheese canapes drizzled with orange blossom honey, bites of avocado mousse topped with fresh local rock crab, lime chipotle crema, chilled gingered carrot soup with coconut milk, local halibut tartare, chilled navel orange slices infused with rose geranium, roasted organic poussins (not pigeons) rubbed with herb butter, local spring asparagus tips, spring onions, and baby zucchini, Harry's berries mesclun salad, and finally molded classic French chocolate mousse with chandler strawberry coulis with chocolate leaves. so good and classy and great company- a couple that i may help with a dinner party they're having, and another who just started growing vines about 1/2 mile from roblar. who needs napa when santa ynez is 30 min. from my doorstep...

bread pudding bake off

leslie and i had lots of bread left over from monday's crostini fun, so we decided to take a couple bags home and try bread pudding. i'm not sure what leslie did with hers, but i made a simple bread pudding recipe thursday night. it was good- simple- but not note worthy. some almond and vanilla extract with orange flavoured cranberries were good, but eh. the real winner was Vermont Maple Bread Pudding with Walnut Praline from 2004 Bon Apetit that i made for friends friday night. It was wonderful with a scoop or vanilla ice cream, but could also be rather lovely for a brunch. this isn't health conscious, but sometimes ya gotta live a little and love that the stale bread is soaking in a quart of whipping cream. the maple syrup makes it sweet but i don't think people would complain. even people who had never had bread pudding before, despite their initial looks, absolutely loved it.

summer salad

summer salad

roast with some evoo, s&p red skins cut in half and zucchini from your garden. (ok kidding but we had it in our garden!) throw in a couple bulbs of garlic and fresh herbs, just a few if you have them- i used oregano. check and flip as needed.

chop local carrots and tomatoes, throw in some capers for saltiness and pine nuts for a crunch. a little bit of parm, evoo, balsamic, and turkey bacon on fresh local spinach. i put some sage leaves in with the bacon as it was cooking to experiment- i still need to try other ways of using it. strawberries from the garden on top.


first thursdays

Santa Barbara has a thing called 1st Thursdays which I've been meaning to try, and finally did. Audrey and i embarked out after work and stepped into various art galleries as well as the Granada which has recently been restored and re-opened. it was fun to go in, look around, and have a glass of wine. we marked out the places with perks and also went to a gallery that had mini Crushcakes and a jewelry gallery that was in the middle of downtown but upstairs with live jazz music and wine, but this time not free. it was fun to look around and pop our heads into places we wouldn't throughout the week. next time... i think I'll go out a bit later as apparently it was quite the scene as Audrey was walking back to her car.

all caught up

so i'm writing a lot today, but all in hopes of getting caught up on life and having this be as current as possible. so let's see- monday leslie and i catered this women's night at church- about 200 people and lots of tapenade and crostini making and assemblage. it was so fun to do it all, get dirty, and hopefully do more of it... yes i would hire out ladies and gentleman- for cooking. get your mind out of the gutter. wednesday was a lovely night to clean off my cruiser and ride to homegroup, all in hopes of riding to work- maybe i'll start that next week? last night was dinner for my smallgroup girls who are graduating- spinach pasta salad with kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, fontina, asiago, parm, capers, red onion and Mouse Odiles salad dressing. so good.

fairy tales

our time in the city was coming to a close, but not without going to the met which was wonderful, stumbling upon a great little restuarant (Atlantic Grill), walking through central park again, grand central station, and finally having dinner at Tavern on the Green. the menus look like something out of a fairy tale, and seeing as it's located right in central park, it kinda of is. my dad picked out some firestone wine and we had a lovely meal amongst the lanterns in the trees. a sweet way to end some of the best consecutive days of my life. the next morning i'd wake up bright and early for the flight back to sb, getting there in time to enjoy the 83 degree weather. waking up in manhatten and then swimming in the pacific all in the same day- i've got a lot to be thankful for.

high life

saturday was the perfect day to tromp around and take our time. once again it was another beautiful day in nyc. we decided to go to The Met, but stopped off at Columbus Circle first so I could go to Bouchon Bakery. Thomas Keller is incredible and the bakery itself is so beautiful- sage green and brown with wonderful graphics inspiring me and resulting in dreams of going back to france. with that, i should probably learn how to pronounce more than just 'sur la table.' i was glad i didn't get breakfast at the hotel- it meant we could try his coffee cake and almond, raspberry croissant. i could probably sit there all day, and in fact wondered if i worked at time warner, if i would have to run errands for my boss and get his coffee from there every morning, or baked goods for meetings. that is a task i would not complain about. on the fourth floor are some of the nations best restaurants. Thomas Keller opened up Per Se as a result of saying it wasn't going to be like the "French Laundry, Per Se." I read a whole chapter on it in The Reach of a Chef and it sounds incredible. The prix fixe meal is $275 and if you want to get someone a gift certificate there, minimum cost is $550. maybe someday... If I don't hit up Per Se though, maybe the dreams of going to French Laundry thanks to Maggie's friend next month will become reality. take me away thomas. Right next to Per Se is Masa where apparently getting a table can cost you $350- you go in and are served what the chef decides on. I've read lunch for two can easily cost you over $1000. as we went down the escalator my mom appropriately sang, 'what do the simple folk do..."

good job bobby!

dinner that night for my mom's birthday would be at bobby flay's Mesa Grill. i just learned thanks to his chefography that it was opened when he was 26- maybe that explains the interesting moon art work over the bar, eh bobby? we started of course with mesa margaritas and had an incredible meal- love his big bold flavours. no messing around- you know you're going to taste and your palette will be glad. having read so much about it recently, but having not partaken, i had duck which was real good. we finished off with dessert and had amazing mexican chocolate over profiteroles- super spicy just the way i like it. hot hot hot. afterwards my dad surprised us and we all went to the Top of the Rock- looking out over the city at night, all the lights and people, the city that never sleeps they say, was pretty wonderful.

bathing on lawns

friday was yet another lovely day. we woke up and walked over to the today show- saw kathy lee and stood in the background as the cooking segment was going- of course. afterwards i went into dean and deluca for a coffee- part of my new york experience i say. from there we stopped into St. Patricks and admired it's glory- i love how new york has cathedrals and parks... more walking and finally a lunch at Mangia where my mom and I had lunch a couple years ago- really incredible prepared foods. my dad and brother went to the carnegie deli and got their corned beef on rye, equivalent to me needing dean and deluca coffee. we made our way to central park and enjoyed the beautiful spring day that it was- everyone outside bathing on the lawns as if it were sand. should i ever live in nyc, i think central park would have to be a big part of my life. it's incredible that there's a huge space in the middle of concrete that makes you feel far from the dust and smell of trash that's been sitting on the sidewalk. i loved the pond near the boat house. sign me up for a class meal there any day. next we'd walk past Parsons and i'd look for tim gunn. not really, but would be fun if he walked by. we also went to Union Square where they were having the green market. picture you've got mail when they get pretzels and an apple then sit on a bench. love it.